Argentina’s President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner struck out at the UK yesterday calling the UK’s claim to the Falkland Islands absurd. Fernandez said, “It is an injustice in the 21st century that there are still colonial enclaves.” President Fernandez also demanded an end to environmental degradation and ransacking of waters around the islands that are potentially rich in oil. In Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, there were protests at the British embassy that turned violent. Demonstrators threw petrol bombs and rocks at police. Police responded to the unrest with tear gas.
The UK defense secretary said the UK is able to defend the Falkland Islands against any attacks by Argentina. He said the UK would not repeat the mistake of 1982 and allow the Falklands to fall into Argentine hands again. In that year Argentina invaded the Falklands and the UK sent troops and ships to oust them. The Falklands are a UK territory that Argentina claims belongs to Argentina. In that war 649 Argentinians and 255 British troops were killed.
Recently, tensions between the UK and Argentina have been escalating over the issue of the Falklands. Britain claims the islands rightfully belong to them and UK Prime Minister Cameron has said there will be no change in that policy. Cameron said the UK will not compromise on the islanders’ right to self determination. Yesterday marked the 30th anniversary of the Falkland War. Cameron said that the anniversary marked the reflection of a day on which many British soldier and Argentinian soldiers lost their lives.
President Fernandez made her comments at a commemoration event in Argentina. Her government has been asserting loudly lately Argentina’s claim to the islands. She has threatened to cancel permission of the only commercial flight to the islands to fly over Argentina and several protests have taken place outside of the UK embassy in Buenos Aires lately. The Argentine government has warned London banks not to engage in oil exploration around the islands or face legal actions. The UK Foreign Minister, William Hague, has downplayed Fernandez and her threats saying her statements have “impressed few people, including in South America.” He has pointed out that the people of the Falkland Islands have said repeatedly that they wish to maintain their constitution and national identity and that they want to live in peace with their Latin American neighbors. Hague said that for as long as the Falkland people express that view the UK will defend and support them.
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Argentina calls the Falkland Islands “Malvinas” and they have long claimed the islands are in their territory. In the history of the islands there have been British, Spanish, and Argentine settlements and claims to the islands. Currently, the Falkland Islands are a self governing British Overseas Territory and the UK is responsible for their defense and foreign affairs. Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II is the Head of State.
The Falkland Islands are a part of the old British Commonwealth Empire and the UK is attempting to hold on to them at all costs most likely because of the possible oil in the area. The UK claims they are self governing but who are they trying to fool? The UK still maintains their empire even though they don’t call it such an longer. The Islands are off the coast of Argentina and in this 21st century it is a bit ridiculous for the UK to be acting as though they are still in the last century. We hear all this talk from the UK and US about self determination, freedom, and democracy but when we look at places like the Falklands we must ask “where is it?”. If the British were truly concerned about the Falklands self determination then they’d be out of the islands and allow them to decide their own future. The islands were uninhabited when they were first discovered in the 16th century by Europeans. The islands have long been a source of tension among European powers and Latin America.